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ruminations on a series of unrelated events

Greece Summer 2018

Saturday, May 19, 2018

And here we go again! My School of Informatics and Computing colleague Albert William and I have returned to Greece for our fourth summer teaching abroad. This year we have nine excited students plus our trusty TA in tow. Every year, I eagerly look forward to the time when we get to return to Paros and introduce more students to this magical place.  As of yesterday all of our students have arrived. Last year, traveling to the island for several of our students was plagued with difficulties due to a ferry strike, missed connections and lost luggage. This year was much better for nearly everyone, but perhaps even worse for one particular student. Thankfully she was able to persevere, despite her 36+ hour sojourn including a missed connection, a canceled flight, an expensive hotel and a delayed ferry. International travel can be so much fun. When it is your first time on a plane, I am sure it doesn’t make for the best first impression of world travel. Luckily, those pains quickly fade from memory when you are surrounded by such amazing sites.

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One of the countless beautiful sunsets on Paros.

Since Albert and I arrived on the island on Tuesday, we have busied ourselves with the usual tasks needed to prepare for our students and for the making of the films they will produce. This year we are trying something a little different. Instead of making documentaries about the archeological sites on the island, like we have done for the last three years, we are going to do one film about farming practices and one about a place called Paros Park. The first film will look at traditional and modern farmers and how their means and methods have persisted or evolved. The second film is going to overview an ecological park on the north end of the island. Paros Park is a peninsula across the bay from the town of Noussa. There is an recent effort to restore the flora, maintain and expand hiking trials, and make the park a destination with a focus on nature and the history of the peninsula.

We have also brought along a special camera, the Matterport (see my blog entry on scanning two labs at the Indiana Medical HistoryMuseum), this year that can scan and photograph spaces and create amazing 3D models of the environments. Look forward to some future posts that will include our 3D virtual tours of various places on the island. So far on the docket to scan are the Ancient Pottery Workshop (the subject of one of our videos last year), the island’s Archeological Museum, and the ceramic studio of Stelios, a local ceramic artist (who was interviewed in our pottery workshop video from last year.)

Monday May 21

Yesterday, after I took an early hike with one of our students, we made made our way to the Ancient Quarries of Paros. Parian marble is literally the world’s finest. It’s small crystal structure gives it exception translucence. The best stuff is long gone, having been mined out hundreds of years ago. The quarries are not open pits, rather they are hand-carved caves that tunnel deep in the mountainside. There are two of them and this year we chose the upper one which is easier to access. It doesn’t have as dangerous a decent.

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One of the few chapels I pass on my morning hike up a mountain overlooking Paros.

After a lengthy exploration, which students seemed to enjoy immensely, we made our way to Lefkes, a charming town in the middle of the island. I am sure I have written about Lefkes in a prior blog posting. The entire town is a postcard and I feel like I have shot every photo I would ever want on prior trips there. So this time I just enjoyed walking with students, taking just a few basic photos for the heck of it, and pointing out various plants. I shouldn’t be surprised that students know literally nothing about the vegetation, given that none of it is native to Indy, but it always surprises me that most of them don’t even know an olive tree or grape vines. So I become the walking botanist naming everything I possibly can.

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The exotic blossoms of the caper plant. There are lots of capers in Lefkes.

Today, Albert and I spent the day, along with one of our students, shooting photogrammetry and the Matterport at the Archeological Museum. After a few weird issues, including the ipad being unexpectedly drained, we were able to get through most of the museum. Unfortunately, part of the museum is in open sun and the Matterport uses infrared scanning which doesn’t really work in the broad sunlight. So we have to make a second trip there during magic hour so we can capture the exterior.

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Working with a student and the Matterport camera to scan the Paros Archeological Museum.

After the museum we all drove out to Paros park to shoot an interview with a woman named Elana, who is both an organic farmer and the permaculturist for the park. So we were able to interview her for both films.

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Elana Symeonidou has an organic farm on the other side of the island and serves as the permaculturist at Paros Park.

Tuesday, May 22

Today was our day to visit with our friend Pandelis Zoumis and interview him for the farming video we are making. We met Pandelis last year. He is a pretty amazing guy. He is a sustenance farmer, a blacksmith, a winemaker, a chef, and a musician. He is an all around impressive guy who lives in a little farm outside of the town of Kostos. Last year, I bought a really cool candle stick from Pandelis and this year I might buy another. Anyway, today we brought the entire class up to meet Pandelis, shoot his interview, and hang out for a bit. I think it is fair to say the students were pretty into it; both meeting Pandelis and seeing the way he lives. The interview went well and then we shot him playing the oud. Later he brought out and played a clarinet, a na, a drum and a bag pipe. Not all at once. He also brought out a little of his wine for some tasting. It was a great way to spend a few hours.

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Pandelis Zoumis with his oud.

Later in the day, Albert and I headed back up to Kostos with a few students. Each year, every student has to find someone on the island to interview and then edit a little video together. This time one of our students wanted to interview Stelios, who is a long established ceramicist on the island (now celebrating 40 years.) As I mentioned earlier, the plan was to scan his studio as well. So Albert and I went up to Yria studios to accomplish both tasks. He and I, with the help of a different student this time, did 44 scans of the studio, The space is insanely over the top with literally hundreds, if not thousands of different ceramics pieces stacked everywhere. It is a visually rich, super chaotic space that certainly looks to contain a lot of the history from over the last 40 years. That makes for a really intricate and time-consuming scan. But here it is:

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=wkEqCPW9quU&brand=0

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Working with a student to teach him how the Matterport works.

Wednesday May 23

Today we were up and out early to shoot two interviews for the film about Paros Park. So it was back to Paros Park. We arrived to find that one interview had to be rescheduled, so we were just going to do one with the director and founder of the park. This would be the first time we’ve interviewed someone who doesn’t speak english. We had a young man on set to serve as a translator. We asked a handful of questions, and for some of them we got quite the lengthy answers. This will add considerably to the workload because the translator will have to translate the video for us so we can edit it.

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The entire class working on the interview of Tassos, the director and one of the founders of Paros Park.

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Tasso’s interview.

Back at the Archeological Institute where we conduct all of classes, we distributed all the video and sound to everyone and went over the basics of editing. We only have one student (actually a student who was on the trip last year) who has any prior experience with video or video editing. So we are starting at a very basic level here. We also gave low resolution videos to our translator so he could take them home to do the translations over night. Hopefully he will still be on board to return tomorrow with the translations.

We spent several long hours at the institute getting everyone up to speed. By 5:00 I was pretty shot. My sleep has not adjusted very well and I was feeling the consequences.

Tonight, we took students out for a group meal at The Albatros. The Albatros has the best food I have ever had on the island. Their skate salad and fried anchovies are to die for. The skate salad has warm skate in a chopped leaf lettuce salad with some sort of magical lemony mustardy green sauce. I think about this salad during the school year. And it was the first meal I had the day we got here. The students seemed to really enjoy dinner. I am glad it wasn’t lost on them. Sometimes you love something a lot and when you share it with people who don’t appreciate it to the same degree, it can be very disappointing. I think it is safe to say everyone really found the food exceptional. What is also exceptional is that it isn’t particularly expensive. It just costs what you would expect to pay for something far less special. Enough of my restaurant review.

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The fried anchovies at The Albatros. They are the french fries of the sea.

Thursday, May 24th

After a morning of getting video footage distributed to students and helping them get going with their edits, we had two interviews that had to be shot in the afternoon. One was the cancelation from the day before and the other was with our commercial farmer, Arsenis, whose name is everywhere I turn. We followed Nicholas to our first interview with the founder and President of Paros Park, Elizabeth. And guess what, Elizabeth lives in an amazing house surrounded by olives trees and grape vines. After a lengthy getting to know each other session, complete with apricots, cheese, wine, souma, bread, more wine, olives, and more wine, we found a really good interview location and went about setting everything up. I am really fond of this interview set-up. I think it worked out perfectly. Gauging sun angles and backgrounds and camera angles and light can present a challenge when trying to pin down a good location. This one we got just right.

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Elizabeth’s interview.

After the interview, more wine flowed (and this is wine from their own vineyard) as Elizabeth engaged us in a conversation about the gun issue in the US. This lively conversation went on for quite a while and students seemed to really enjoy her company, her hospitality, and the multiple toasts to female power. Finally, we had to pull ourselves away as we were late for our second interview. But we promised to return soon to see the wine operation.

We had about a 10-minute drive to the farm of Arsenis. We met him on a 150+ hectares of grapes, pomegranates, olives and other crops, none of which were there just 5 years ago. Arsenis does not come from a farming background at all. He is a business man who saw a business opportunity in farming where others didn’t. He rents all the land and irrigates all the crops. We interviewed him in a tractor shed with him sitting on the front wheel of the tractor. It seemed to go well, but it was in Greek so we really don’t know yet.

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Arsenis’s interview.

Friday, May 25

Finally a day of relaxation. Well not exactly. I guess more it could be more accurately described as a day of no working. Today was sea kayaking day. Albert, my colleague, has taken the class kayaking for the last couple of years, but I have always demurred due to my aversion to the sun. Being prone to annoying skin cancers, due to my overly pale complexion, I try to avoid the sun as much as possible, (allowing for the exception of biking of course.) But this year, I decided I would go along to experience it at least once. Coincidentally, the plan was to kayak in the Noussa bay right off the eco-park we are documenting, and paddle around the bay stopping at various places to swim and picnic.

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Me prepared to be sea kayaking in the sun all day.

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Getting things stored away inside the kayaks.

It might have been somewhat foretelling that I could barely fit in the kayak (maybe this is just not a sport for me). Not because of my width, but rather because of my height. These kayak have peddles to control a rudder, and my legs were so long I couldn’t even bend my legs back far enough inside the cramped kayak to get my feet on the peddles. The guide had to actually remove a part of the kayak cockpit to make more room for me to bend my knees and then it was still virtually impossible. But finally, I was able to bend my ankles back far enough to get my toes on the peddles.

After holding up the show for quite a while, we were finally able to launch. The first bit was quite nice. We paddled around in relatively calm waters. There was a bit of a wind, but the waves weren’t so bad in the relatively protected area we were in. Eventually, we made it to a beach and had a nice swim in the cool waters. Even I, a person who never swims in the broad light of day, went for a refreshing dip. Next, we had to traverse open waters and that is where the waves started to take their toll on my stomach. Now I have been quite seasick before, and this wasn’t anything like that. But it was just enough to make me slightly queasy and that queasiness would stick with me to various degrees for the rest of the afternoon.

Later, we landed on an island in the bay that has a chapel on it. While everyone else was swimming again, I took the opportunity to stretch out on the cool black and white tile of the dark chapel and take a short nap to relieve my queasiness. That was delightful. Afterward our kayak hosts, Alex and Sophia, prepared a great picnic lunch in the chapel. A couple students proclaimed they were the best sandwiches they had ever had.

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The view from our first swimming spot.

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I love this old black and white tile.

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Our picnic lunch on “Chapel Island.”

After lunch, the wind had picked up so much there were whitecaps. So instead of paddling back to where we started, we made a bee-line straight to the shore, where somehow Alex got a scouter ride back to the kayak van. I was quite relieved that we didn’t have to kayak into the headwind and whitecaps for 30 minutes.

Not soon enough, we were driving back home. I was happy I did it, but knew now that it was one of those things I was only going to do once.

Saturday, May 26th

Wow, a lot on the agenda today. This morning we had to be on the other side of the island to a place a called Kamara to shoot our FarmHer working on her farm. We went there to shoot B-roll with the farm team students. We were there by 8. I have to say I was immediately enchanted by this farm. Elana, the farmer, is part of a three-person team that operates the farm called Kamarantho. They have olive trees, fig trees, pomegranate trees, all kinds of crops, and a huge green house filled with various types of plants. And of course they produce all kinds of cool products from the farm. It is tucked into an area surrounded by mountains. And none of it existed 5 years ago. I think I said that earlier about a different farm.

To start things off, Elana invited us down to a new outdoor kitchen they just completed to serve us Greek coffee as we set up our gear. The setting was beautiful, the kitchen was beautiful, the weather was beautiful and the coffee was delicious. I knew it was going to be a good morning. We spent the next 2 ½ hours shooting various shots of Elana doing work around the farm. We were also treated to delicious figs plucked off the tree. And it all ended too soon as far as I am concerned. But we weren’t able to get any drone shots because of windy conditions. Oh well, we will just have to go back!

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The really cool outdoor kitchen/pergola.

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The view from the outdoor kitchen.

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Shooting jib shots of Elana doing heavy duty chores like lugging the geraniums we put in her wheelbarrow.

From the farm, I headed back to Stelios’s ceramic studio in Kostos with the student, Renee, who is making her video about him, and two other students who volunteered to help. She needed to get some B-roll of Stelios working, and I wanted to show him the Matterport we did and ask him to pose for a portrait. We caught Stelios at a good time. Nobody else was there. Before we started shooting, I showed Stelios the scan of his studio. It is fair to say he was truly blown away. He couldn’t believe it. He could not have been more impressed. I love to see that kind of reaction.

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Stelios, the man, the myth, the potter.

The footage we shot of him was really just perfect for the student. She got him loading a kiln, painting a fish on a plate, pounding some clay and finally throwing a pitcher. And just as she called cut on the final shot, a group of 7 people arrived to look around and buy ceramics. Of course, Stelios suddenly had to do that and my opportunity to have him sit for a portrait vanished. So another trip to Stelios will have to be figured out.

One last task of the day remained. At 6 Albert and I brought the Paros Park team over to the park to shoot B-roll in the late day sun. I have to say this was a magical little hike. We shot several shots along the trail as we made our way to an old lighthouse on the northernmost point of the park. We reached the lighthouse just as the sun was about to set. It was pretty stunning. The waves were crashing against the rocky cliffs, the light was perfect and we had the satisfaction of closing the day surrounded by beauty. This hike was a first for both Albert and I and we both knew that we would always bring future classes back to this amazing little park.

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The Paros Park team showing school spirit

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The view of the sunset from the lighthouse lookout.

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Sunday, May 27

No rest on Sunday. Today at 10, we went to the Ancient Pottery Workshop to make a Matterport scan. The place in normally locked and you can only look in through a grate. We procured a letter from the Ministry of Culture which allowed us access to place. So Albert and I spent 3 hours with 2 students scanning every inch of the place. It took a bit longer than I expected because the place is full of so many nooks and crannies. Afterwards we returned to the institute to work on A-Roll editing.

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=GrRvzBQJe84

At the end of the day, I took the opportunity to hike to the monastery on the mountain that overlooks Parikia. It is a bit of a steep hike at times, but the view is amazing.

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Monday, May 28th

Today was a big day of shooting B-Roll. I took the farm team over to Pandelis’s farm at 8 to shoot him going about his business on his farm. It turned out to be a great opportunity to not only see his crops and the ancient techniques he uses to cultivate, but to also be treated to some traditional foods.

We wandered his farm shooting him doing various tasks and seeing the diversity of his crops. He has watermelon, chick peas, tomatoes, onions, figs, capers, various grape vines, olive trees, almond trees (we sampled fresh almonds which were incredibly good), and he even had a mastic tree (the sap is used to make mastika, my favorite greek liqueur). It seems amazing that so many delicious things grow out of what seems like such dry earth. But Pandelis knows the time-honored and proven techniques to make that magic work and coax the plants to grow. For example, he showed us how he digs up the incredibly soft soil around a watermelon plant and lays the tap root flat (in the direction of the dominate wind) and then covers it with soil again. This makes the tap root sprout more roots and maximizes its water efficiency as it gives the plant strength against the gusting winds and brings the “humidity” up to the ground surface for the plant.

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Two students shooting b-roll of Pandelis who is surrounded by olive trees and marble.

Afterwards, Pandelis fed the crew when he brought out olives, bread, cheese, turkish coffee, and an insanely delicious sage/mint tea that we sweetened with a grape sauce (like a thick grape juice reduction). He explains each thing he serves, where it originates or how it was made, and it instills it with a certain value. I love the way that makes the experience feel so significant and connected to both the past and the earth. I hope the students, despite their lack of years, can feel that same sense.

After our shoot and snacks, Pandelis took us to the top of the hill behind his house where the remains of his grandfather’s brother’s house can still be found. We went inside where you can still see the fireplace and other things. And because the roof is caving in in places, you can see the various layers that make up a traditional greek roof: Rows of cane, topped layers of two types of seaweed, and covered with about 10cm of white clay.

At one point he pulled out a big rusty iron hook from the debris on the floor and handed it to me saying, “here, for you.” So I now have a 100-year old iron hook that I need to find a worthy purpose for.

After saying good bye and parting ways, we made our way over to Stelios ceramic studio again. Renee, who interviewed Stelios for her project, wanted to get a pot throwing lesson. I wanted an opportunity to make a portrait. And anyone who was interested could buy some of his ceramics. It was a fun way to spend a short break from shooting. And Renee had the satisfaction of getting clay on her hands.

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Stelios looking contemplative while actually putting up with us invading his space.

I finished off the evening by taking the Park Team back to Paros Park to get some more B-roll around sundown. We had a fun time doing more exploring and shooting waves crashing on the rocks. After a few hours of shooting, I suggested we head over to Noussa for dinner. Noussa at night is very charming and the historic waterfront has lots of cool shops and restaurants. We ended up eating in a large square along the waterfront next to all the boats docked for the night. It was a classic Greek scene.

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Some of the fishing boats docked at the old port of Noussa.

Wednesday, May 30

Every year we take students out to the archeological dig on the island of Despotiko. This year was no different. The ancient temple to Apollo on the uninhabited island was the subject of the first film we made on our initial trip in 2014. Since then we have seen the site significantly advance, both in the extent of the dig itself and how far the reconstruction has progressed. Every summer they dig up new areas and find new rooms and artifacts. Since we were there last summer, they had discovered several new rooms adjacent to the actual temple.

For the last few years, they have been undertaking a major effort to reconstruct a portion of the main two buildings on the location. On archeological sites in Greece, reconstruction has to be limited to a low percentage of the overall site. I think it is around 20%. This effort won’t come anywhere near 20%, but it will reconstruct some supporting foundation, walls, columns and architrave.

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As long as the private donations come in, the team employs highly trained marble cutters to work on the reconstruction who have worked at the acropolis. Part of the laborious process involves incorporating pieces of existing marble into new marble pieces. This is done by creating photogrammetry of the original pieces and then in a 3D program create a negative of it that is then used with a CNC milling machine to cut the new marble to fit. They are then adhered to one another with a strong glue and a titanium rod.

To get to Despotiko, we have to drive to Punda to catch the ferry to Antiparos, then drive to the east side of Antiparos (passing Tom Hanks house, which I always point out) and take a small ferry across the bay to Despotiko. On either the way over or back, the captain of the boat takes a detour to the south where there are sea caves and cliffs along the Antiparos shoreline. This time we headed there beforehand because the wind was strong, but might even be stronger after we visited Despotiko. It has been pretty windy here for the last week. (It is supposed to last through the weekend.) The captain then dropped anchor and let students go for a swim. With the wind and the choppy waves only a handful of students opted to jump in.

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Every year we go here and I am just waiting for that rock on the left, the one protruding from the face of cliff, to be gone one year.

On Despotiko, we were once again treated to a tour by Ilia.  She is great at explaining all the various things surrounding us and did a really good job of keeping students engaged and asking questions.

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Ilia is the assistant to the head archeologist of this region of the Cyclades.

Friday,  June 1

Today was largely spent trying to script and record a scratch track of the narration for each video. Good progress was made. For the last two years we have had a guy named Colin Brown record the VO, which he is going to do on Tuesday morning. Colin is a British guy who has lived on the island forever. He has a Greek wife, Stella, and they have a high school age son, George. Together they ran the Micro café. The Micro was a beloved café where each year all of us would spend countless hours hanging out, playing chess and ordering coffee and food. I adored that place. Colin and Stella would also host quiz night on Thursday nights and the place would be packed with every Brit on the island. Quiz night was so much fun, even though none of us stood a chance of winning.

A few months ago, we learned through facebook that they had sold the café. Boy were we bummed. It was such a central hangout. If we weren’t at the villa or the institute, we were at the Micro. Oh well. At least I am saving money not buying coffees and smoothies. But it is truly missed. A young Greek guy bought it and every time I walk by it is empty. I feel bad for him, but for some reason, I never have the desire to stop in. Maybe I will before I go.

So in the spirit of the Micro’s quiz night, we had one of our own. Alex, our TA, has been busy for several days putting together all the questions (many of which were American-centric to get back at Colin for all his Euro-centric questions.) And we invited Colin and Stella to come over. We had a big poolside dinner catered by the steakhouse owned by Katerina’s husband and then Quiz Night began. It was a lot of fun, despite losing. I should mention there is money involved. Everyone has to pitch in 2 Euros and on top of that Albert sweetened the pot with 20 more.  There are two rounds with 10 questions each, and 5 photo IDs, and 5 music IDs. I really suck at the music IDs.

Anyway, as if there were some weird cosmic force at work, Colin and Stella won quiz night. I guess doing your own quiz night every week, 6 months out of the year, for 8 years, gets you pretty well versed on your trivia.

Saturday, June 2

Today was largely spent working with the students to B-roll the films. This is when you add video on top of the interview footage (known as the A-roll). We have shot quite a bit, but as they say, you can never have too much B-roll. Luckily, there was enough of a break in the wind in the morning that one of our students, who brought a drone, was able to go to Paros Park with Albert and get some pretty spectacular footage. You can’t go wrong with breathtaking aerial shots of the rugged Grecian coastline.

A lot of progress was made and after 8 hours of editing, everyone was pretty fried. So it was time to go home… and then go out. The Aegean Center (http://www.aegeancenter.com/) is an art program that has been on the island since the 60s. It is run by John and Jane Pack. He teaches photo and she teaches painting and drawing. Every year we go to their opening. This year Colin, with time on his hands from not taking omelet orders, took a photo class. He is actually quite good. He had several nicely composed abstract architectural photos. I am tempted to buy one. (I did.)

Posters and postcards have been designed and printed.

Sunday, June 3

Last night, before the Aegean Center opening, I finally rented a bike. In the past I have rented a bike for the entire duration, but this year I wasn’t feeling quite as flush. I was about to skip it and just continue with my hiking, but Colin convinced me to get the bike and to also enter the race at the end of the week. (I raced in it last year and it was a lot of fun.) I went to my usual place and got my usual bike. This morning I got up at 5:30 and went for a 47k ride around part of the island. It was a beautiful ride with virtually nobody on the roads. For the first part, heading south out of Parikia, I was zipping along. It felt so amazing to be back on a bike. I was feeling so blissful. With how busy I have been the last few months, I have only had time to be on my trainer. Finally, real roads with real hills. When I rounded the southernmost tip of the island (from where the photo was taken) to head up the east side  of the island, I was confronted with a crazy headwind. Oh boy. It had been so calm and now it was pretty brutal. In fact a sudden cross wind almost knocked me off my bike. I just had to make peace with it and know that it just makes for a more intense workout.

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The view from the top of the hill that is at the southern tip of the island.

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My bike route.

After a brief post-ride nap, Albert and I went to breakfast and watched all the personal videos our students made. Each student is required to meet someone on the island and just shoot and edit a short interview with them. This way they have to get out of their comfort zone and seek someone out to actually interact with. For some of our students this year that is absolutely no problem. All-in-all the videos were pretty good. Probably some of the best we have ever had. With the final push to get our two main videos done for the public screening on Thursday, the sooner the students can have their personal videos out of the way, the better they can concentrate on the main two.

I closed out the day with dinner at a place called Yainnoulos. We took everyone there a few days ago for a group dinner. We ordered the mixed appetizer for two for the table. I wanted to go back and order it for myself for dinner. So I had a wonderful time with my mixed appetizer/entre and half a carafe of white wine.

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I loved watching this guy make his way across the bay. He seemed to peaceful out there.

Monday June 4th

With our public screening of our videos just days away, the final press is on to get our two videos completed to a professional level. Yet I had to start the day trying to complete the Archeological Museum scan. So at 8, I was there ready to go at it. Except nobody was there. Finally around 8:10 the woman from the last time we scanned showed up. She was obviously not expecting me. She let me in and placed a call to Yonnos, the head archeologist who said we had a greenlight. After a lot of yelling, she put me on the phone with him and I simply had to tell him how long I would be. I scanned for an hour or so before heading over to the institute.

The last week leading up to the screening is always full of much longer days of editing. The 10-2 schedule goes out the window and students edit until 6 or 7. I really hold students to high standards when it comes to editing technique. This year with no video students on the trip, I had to teach from the ground up; everything from what A/B rolling is and how to do it, to how to use the editing software. All this takes an extraordinary amount of time. Luckily our students this year are really on the ball and pick up on things pretty quickly.

Tuesday June 5th

I started the morning by biking with Colin at 7:00. We biked a nice little route I’ll have to ride again sometime. When I ride, I always head south out of Parikia for some reason. Probably because we stay on the south side of town and I can get out of town faster that way. But we needed a shorter loop to ride today because we were starting at 7 and both of us had to be at the institute at 10, as Colin was on the schedule to record our voice over this morning. So we headed north up the mountain to Lefkes. This is a ride we can do in a little over an hour and a half and get back with plenty of time to chill, wash-up, have coffee, eat breakfast and stroll to the institute. This route has us going down the monster 3km hill north of Lefkes, rather than uphill as I usually do. Unfortunately, as I knew after my first ride but hadn’t done anything about, my breaks we not very tight. Consequently, the ride down the Lefkes Monster was a little more hair raising than it ought to have been. I had to be very careful not to gain too much speed, as my break handles were bottoming out before I was getting even half stopping power out of them. I obviously survived without incident, but next time, I’ll opt for working breaks. On the way back home, I dropped by the bike shop and had Mihalis tighten the breaks. So now things are good.

The rest of the day was spent recording Colin and editing it in, and more of the endless tweaks that are required to get these videos to where they need to be.

At 6:00, we had an appointment to scan the Church of Taxiarchis, (Church of the Three Angels) This is a little, 17th century chapel right near The Micro café that has a painted ceiling, which isn’t very common. I have been in it each time I have been here, and as soon as we knew we were going to be able to bring the Matterport to Greece, it was the first place I wanted to scan. It only took us about an hour. I think the people who let us in were highly suspicious about what we were up to. They kept looking in the windows. And we were having to hide from the camera, so it must have looked a little odd to say the least.

Church of the Taxiarchis

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=WPukndWwbrP

Wednesday June 6th

After what has been an exceptionally long time away from the bike before coming to Paros, it has been nice to break that inertia and get back in the saddle. Today, I did another loop around the island.  But this time there was no wind and it was a completely different experience. I got up super early so I could get pretty far before the sun was beating down on me. It was the highlight of my day, as the rest of the day was spent on the darn finishing touches that never want to actually get finished. It takes so long to polish videos to a shine. Unless you have done it, you would have no idea how much effort goes into getting them just right. And then you still see things you’ve missed after they are done.

After those fixes we did some exit interviews. This is when we sit a few of our students down and ask them a few questions on camera about their experience on the island and in the program. Students wanted to interview me after they had finished being interviewed. I am always a reluctant interview, but I can usually think on the fly pretty well and hold my own.  Now here is a weird thing. For some reason as soon as I sat in front of the camera I suddenly turned into a nervous 12-year-old who has to make a scary class presentation. When I started to talk, my voice came out all nervousy and when I heard it I got wigged out a little. What the hell. I’ll have to burn that tape. All those years of working on my anxieties and neuroses just went down the tubes. Having questions thrown at you that you are not quite prepared for is not easy. Now I will just need therapy for the next 10 years to put all that into perspective. Maybe I should just get some hypnotherapy so I can erase it from my memory. On the useful side, it gives me a greater appreciation of what it can be like for people I interview; like all the people who sit down for the opioid film interviews.

Thursday, June 7th

I started the day with a great ride up to Lefkes and back. I got up really early so I could watch the sunrise as I made the climb. The magic hours of dawn and evening really are the most beautiful times. If there is no wind, the temperature is often perfect. If I am up high on a mountain somewhere, the view with the soft skylight can be incredible. I often have the feeling that I am looking down on a landscape that has remained relatively unchanged for centuries. These early morning rides really do go a long way toward grounding me and really preparing my mind and mood for the day ahead.

Today, the day ahead included being at the 100 Door Church to scan the Baptistery at 8:00. We scanned the location in just under an hour. It worked out pretty well.

The Baptistery of the 100 Door Church (The basilica on the island)

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=Rfqb7CeVtx8

And of course later Thursday, we had our public screening at the Archilochus, a local venue we have used in the past. I always look forward to this event, as it is the real face-to-face moment when our young filmmakers debut their work to an appreciative and supportive audience. I think it is fair to say that everyone was thrilled and flattered to see the stories we have produced about their community. And our students got to experience what it is like to show their hard work in a public forum, something that can be both nerve-wracking and exhilarating.

As for me, I am not only extremely proud of the work our students made this year, I am also proud of the way they represented our country last night. Having done a lot of international travel, I have always been aware that people in other countries see individual American tourists as representative of the entire US population. American travelers are like ambassadors in the countries they visit, (whether they know it or not). And let’s be honest, American tourists don’t have a stellar reputation. We all know that. Of course none of that is fair at all, but it’s the reality. So last night as people were arriving, it warmed my heart to see our students greeting people as they walked in. Every time I looked around, I saw our students actively engaging with our guests. I saw lots of conversations and interactions and nobody idly sitting by looking at their phones. I can guarantee none of our guests left last night with an impression that students from America (or at least from IU) are cold and standoffish. I can say with complete certainty that they left with the impression that we all genuinely care about them and their community, and we represented what we learned while we were here with the utmost respect and professionalism. All of that is an accomplishment to be very proud of.

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This entry was posted on May 21, 2018 by in Uncategorized.
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